By Gabriel Sterne and Alessandro Theiss, Oxford Economics
If there was a financial crisis in China, the government could take a big hit, transferring a huge chunk of bad debts onto its balance sheet. But this remedy would have a big impact on the domestic and global economy.
Overall debt (public, private and financial) has skyrocketed in recent years, rising from 176 per cent of GDP in 2007, to 258 per cent of GDP by mid-2014. The debt binge may be fuelling a time bomb in the property market. Read more
Clearly, China’s interest rate cut on Friday was motivated by a desire to manage a flagging growth story. But the announcement also revealed a few sub-plots, which together may say more about Beijing’s mindset than the dominant narrative.
The first point, several analysts said, is that Beijing’s monetary easing may well have further to run, following the decision by the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) to cut its benchmark lending rate by 0.4 percentage points to 5.6 per cent, while cutting its deposit rate by 0.25 per cent to 2.75 per cent. Read more
By Xiao Qi, China Confidential
China’s shadow finance sector has become a global concern. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank have both warned about the risks associated with the rapid build-up of assets within such an opaque sector, while central bankers now regularly reference Chinese shadow finance as a key potential risk to global economic stability.
But while concern over the lurking horrors in China’s financial shadows remains justified, regulatory actions mean that the systemic risks that they pose are finally starting to ebb. This is happening in spite of the fact that the overall scale of the shadow system is continuing to expand. Read more
There may be some light at the end of the tunnel for China’s beleaguered housing market, according to a survey of real estate developers by China Confidential. Home sales growth in October was the highest in 18 months, while a separate survey of urban consumers shows home buying sentiment at a multi-year high.
China Confidential’s monthly survey of 300 real estate developers across 40 cities, showed a sharp rebound in sales volumes in October, with companies reporting the biggest month-on-month increase since March 2013. Developers reported an even larger expansion in sales inquiries, suggesting that many potential home-buyers remain on the side-lines. Read more
The downturn in China’s property market is well documented, and one of the biggest points of interest for global investors. Whether you mine copper, sell TVs, or buy bonds, chances are the Chinese housing market matters to you somehow.
With that in mind, we’d like to present this handy chart from Moody’s – showing the annual price changes for newly completed apartments in China. It’s quite telling. Read more
GDP growth. Third-quarter growth could be the slowest since the depths of the global financial crisis, when China reported 6.6 per cent growth in the first quarter of 2009.
A reported export surge in September is failing to dispel the gloom suffusing forecasts for China’s third quarter GDP growth, which several economists predict will slump to a five-year low.
One problem lies with the export numbers themselves, which raise suspicions that over-invoicing may once again be artificially inflating export statistics as Chinese smuggle hot money into the mainland from Hong Kong to take advantage of an appreciating renminbi. Read more
By Andy Rothman, Matthews Asia
China’s housing market is one of the most important parts of its economy, and also one of the most misunderstood. This sector is important because residential real estate together with construction last year accounted directly for about 10 per cent of GDP, 18 per cent of fixed-asset investment, 10 per cent of urban employment and more than 15 per cent of bank loans. It is also misunderstood because few observers appear to grasp the structure of China’s residential market. Read more
China stepped up its efforts on Tuesday to transform doomsday scenarios for its domestic property market into merely another round of déjà vu. The central bank reinforced efforts to boost mortgage lending by banks, building on the small but significant turnaround that beyondbrics noted in mid-September.
The new policies allow buyers who already own one home but have paid off their mortgage to be considered as first-time buyers, thus qualifying for a mortgage downpayment of 30 per cent of the cost of the loan. Previously, they would have been considered as second home buyers and had to pay a downpayment of at least 60 per cent. Read more
A closely-watched indicator of economic activity in China is showing an unexpectedly robust reading for September, according to an announcement on Tuesday. But is a real growth rebound underway, following several signs of a slowdown in the third quarter so far?
Hong Kong stock market investors appeared to reserve judgement, allowing the Hang Seng index to slip 0.49 per cent, or 118 points on Tuesday to 23,837. Economists and other survey-based indicators of Chinese economic activity reinforced the skepticism. Read more
Headline statistics on the Chinese property market continue to relay a picture of virtually unrelieved gloom. However, in one small but important area, market pressures appear to be easing.
All year long Chinese banks have tightened up on mortgage lending to both first time buyers and purchasers of second homes, withdrawing discounts on mortgage loans and restricting loan growth – and thereby depressing buying activity.
However, this changed in August, with banks switching course to offer softer terms on mortgage loans, research companies said. Read more
Wealth is not necessarily translating into health for China’s growing cohort of millionaires, many of whom complain of eating disorders, too much alcohol and an average of just 6.2 hours of sleep a night (see chart).
Fast living is blamed for a variety of ailments, with around a third of millionaires (those with a personal wealth of Rmb10m or US$1.6m, £1m) suffering from insomnia, headaches, fatigue and memory loss while smaller proportions endure hair loss, immune problems, numb limbs and smokers’ coughs, according to a survey by Hurun Research Institute released on Friday.
Such conditions underpin a burgeoning demand among wealthy Chinese for products, treatments and lifestyle choices that are thought to confer health. “There is a clear trend among the Chinese millionaire class towards exercise, eating more carefully and generally taking better care of their bodies,” said Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman of the Hurun Report. Read more
By Rafael Halpin, China Confidential
For a sector regularly called “the most important in the universe”, there is a remarkable lack of consensus over the Chinese housing market. Much of the debate boils down to whether China is currently under- or over-supplied with homes.
The absence of any comprehensive data on just how many houses there are in China, has led to wildly divergent views. But, as we will seek to demonstrate in this article, despite the lack of any solid data on the total number of homes in China, it is still possible to present a strong statistical case that the market is currently under-supplied with modern housing. Read more
By Bo Zhuang of Trusted Sources
Overhauling state-owned enterprises (SOEs) is key to the Chinese growth story for the next 10 years. But, while the approach being taken by the Xi Jinping leadership acknowledges the need for change, it also stresses the parallel need to strengthen the Communist Party State. This could mean reform will take a rather different form to the assumptions of markets, which have risen on the back of expectations of market-friendly change. Read more
By Hayden Briscoe and Hua Cheng, AllianceBernstein
In spite of worries about a collapse in China’s property market, we think that the financial system will navigate the coming credit cycle if banks can buy time to resolve loan problems — and receive government support if needed. Read more
By Hayden Briscoe and Jenny Zeng, AllianceBernstein.
Concerns about a possible collapse in China’s property market continue to grow. However, our research suggests that fundamentals are more robust than many people think. The biggest danger lies in the potential for policy mistakes.
Investors are understandably worried about the headlines coming out of China’s property sector. Sales fell in July after having seemed to stabilize in June. For the first half of this year, sales nationally fell by 6.7% year over year, to Rmb3tn (US$488.4bn). That’s the first time such a steep fall has occurred since 2011. Read more
China’s property slump – which in July was characterised by widespread declines in city real estate prices coupled with falling sales volumes – appears to have carried over into August, data for the first half of the month shows.
Data from 42 large cities monitored by China Confidential, a research service at the Financial Times, shows a 20 per cent year on year decrease in home sales in the first 17 days of August. Unsold inventory in 14 large cities jumped by 48 per cent year on year in the same period, the data shows (see chart). Read more
China’s property market – seen by some as the biggest risk facing the global economy – appears to be weakening across the board as construction activity cools, land sales slow, apartment sales slide, unsold inventory rises, financing grows tighter and the sentiment of developers slumps markedly, according to a quarterly survey conducted by Standard Chartered Bank.
“Our Developers Sentiment Index suggests that the worst times are still ahead for many developers,” concluded the Standard Chartered report authored by Lan Shen and Stephen Green. The survey polled 30 senior managers at real estate developers in June-July in six cities – Hangzhou, Foshan, Huangshi, Baoding, Lanzhou and Nanchong – on current market conditions and expectations.
The results were almost uniformly gloomy Read more
By Ben Simpfendorfer of Silk Road Associates
The Yuecheng in Beijing’s southern suburbs is a pleasant looking senior living home. Its main living room is full of books, potted plants, and mahjong tables. Its bedrooms are bright and well equipped and little different from the rooms that many might be used to seeing in Europe or the US.
Indeed, to the casual observer, the Yuecheng appears to be a pin-up for the commercial opportunities of selling to China’s growing ranks of elderly people. But that’s why it’s also misleading. Read more
Banks intensified their squeeze on mortgage borrowers in China in June, contributing to another sharp decline in real estate sales for the month and ratcheting up the pressure on several city government finances.
Data collected by China Confidential, a research service on China at the Financial Times, showed that only 5 per cent of first time buyers were able to secure a mortgage below the benchmark interest rate. This compared with 8 per cent in May and 39 per cent in June 2013, according to China Confidential’s monthly survey of 300 real estate developer sales offices in 40 cities across the country. Read more